Reviews and posts from the blogtour

Check out the links to read the full reviews and posts from the No Accident blog tour between 20-30th August 2017.

An extraordinary detective thriller – Bits About Books.

A clever, original and highly enjoyable thriller – Booksaremycwtches.

Could an environmental health officer solve a murder? – Anne bonny Book Reviews

I enjoyed the humour scattered throughout – Ali – The Dragon Slayer

An entertaining and enjoyable mystery – Novel Deelights

A different concept to a crime story – Sweet Little Books

I have a new fictional hero! – Ignite Bookblog

I warmed to Kent Fisher straight away  – A Lover of Books

Five things I learned from writing No Remorse

No Remorse is the third Kent Fisher mystery and unique in many ways.

The first two books in the series, No Accident and No Bodies were originally conceived, planned in detail and written between 2000 and 2003. They were extensively revised and rewritten for publication in 2016 and 2017 respectively, but the story and characters didn’t change.

No RemorseNo Remorse was the first new Kent Fisher mystery I’d written in thirteen years. It was a chance to write a new novel from scratch, utilising everything I’d learned in between. It was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.

So, what did I learn?

  1. I could write without a detailed synopsis or plan

I started No Remorse with a desire to show what the bad side of residential care homes might look like, and an opening line of dialogue – ‘They’re going to kill me, Mr Fisher, but they’ll never learn my secret.’

That’s it. I had no idea how the story would develop or if it would work. I had the character of Anthony Trimble, who had a secret I knew nothing about, and a luxury care home with unscrupulous owners.

To keep things fresh, Kent Fisher wasn’t at work when he visited the home. He was there with Columbo, his West Highland white terrier, as part of a Pets as Therapy scheme. When Mr Trimble dies without relatives, environmental health arranges a funeral. This brings Kent back to the words Mr Trimble uttered at the start of the novel. From here, Kent starts to follow Trimble’s life back into the past to unearth a terrible secret and expose his killer.

With no synopsis, the story was written chapter by chapter, each one prompting the events and actions of the next. As a result I kept the chapters short, which really improved the pace of the novel.

It turned out to be the most exhilarating journey of my writing career.

  1. How private investigators track down people

After Trimble’s death I had the problem of looking into his past, what he did and so on. Tracking someone down is a basic private detective function, but I didn’t know where to start.

Private investigatorGoogle came to the rescue and the answer really was quite obvious. If you know where someone lives, talk to the neighbours. If you know what someone did for a living, talk to colleagues.

People may not realise how well-connected environmental health officers are. They visit many businesses and have information on them all. Once Trimble was located in the department’s database, Kent was on his way, opening up one can of worms after another. He traced former homes and businesses, spoke to the local rector and asked around in the pub – like a good detective.

  1. The value of the right editor

I changed editor for No Remorse, based on the recommendation of a fellow crime author. Through only the medium of emails, we hit it off right away. I felt confident she would provide good service and value, which she did.

Her insights and understanding allowed me to make small, but significant changes to improve the story. As all my novels have a strong backstory with familiar characters, the main murder plot can be pushed into the background from time to time. My editor suggested Kent could still be thinking about the murders while doing other things to make sure the murder investigation remained at the forefront.

  1. How to surprise readers (and my editor)

I wish I could reveal the surprise that stunned many readers, but that would spoil the story for those who want to read it. My editor didn’t see it coming, as she put it, and loved the surprise. Many readers told me how they were surprised, shocked and stunned, but they loved the moment and thought it was one the best parts of the story.

Writing the story a chapter at a time, I knew little about the surprise until just before it happened. I had to go back and do some rewriting as a result, but it was worth it.

  1. How to write the novel I always wanted to write

No Remorse is the murder mystery novel I always wanted to write. It has elements of Agatha Christie with its cryptic codes and messages, and Kinsey Millhone, my favourite fictional private eye.

All these elements came to me as I wrote. I thought I’d be sitting there, wondering what to write next. Far from it. The ideas kept coming and at the end of every chapter, I lobbed in a complication, determined to make Kent Fisher’s investigation as difficult as it could be, and then some.

This is the way I now write the Kent Fisher novels, starting with minimal information and ideas. I discover what happens pretty much at the same time as Kent (or while I’m shaving) and go with it. Sometimes I have to backtrack a little and revise, but mainly it’s spontaneous until I start to solve the mystery.

No AccidentClick here to find out what I learned from writing No AccidentNo Bodies

Click here to find out what I learned from writing No Bodies

 

If you’d like to find out more about the series and never miss a book release, why not sign up to my Readers Group.

Murder on Mystery Island by Colin Garrow

30-10-2019.  5 stars.

This is the fifth in the Watson Letters series, a deliciously funny and inventive spoof of Baker Street’s finest. Set in a parallel universe where almost anything goes, the events in the story echo a certain novel by Agatha Christie, where those present are killed one by one.

Thrust into this island of murder and intrigue are Dr Watson and his wife, Mary, who reveal a somewhat different slant on Sherlock Holmes and his prowess as a detective. Nothing and no one is spared from the author’s irreverent humour and invention. Agatha Christie’s character is a hoot and will live long in my memory, if only for her rather unusual jodhpurs.

As almost everyone becomes a suspect, the pace hots up towards a terrific finale that could almost have come out of a James Bond film. Totally absorbing and endlessly inventive, with memorable characters and some wickedly funny lines and moments, Murder on Mystery Island had me chuckling from start to finish.

Unlike previous books in the series, which featured three stories, this was a full length novel, which worked well and offered even more opportunities to mercilessly spoof the original, while remaining faithful to Conan Doyle’s style and approach.

Congratulations to the author on another wonderfully entertaining story in this great series.

Description

When consumptive Doctor Edward Armstrong turns up at Baker Street with an invitation to visit a mysterious island, Sherlock Holmes smells a rat. Sounding deviously similar to the plot of a recent novel by celebrated lady author Mrs Christie, Holmes decides to send his inveterate side-kick Watson to the island, along with the Doctor’s lovely, but wonky-eyed wife, Mary, and a well-known Scotland Yard detective. Taking Armstrong’s place, the team determine to find out exactly what’s going on, but before they’ve even left the mainland, one of the guests is murdered.

Murder on Mystery Island

Robert Crouch – Author Interview

Colin Garrow is one of my favourite authors with his irreverent Sherlock Holmes spoof, The Watson Letters.

He recently interviewed me for his blog, asking some interesting and searching questions about my writing and the Kent Fisher series. Please click here to read the interview and let me know what you think. If you have any questions, please ask away.

You never know

Two years ago, on 20th June 2016, my first novel, No Accident, was published.

Was it a dream come true?

Graham NortonOf course it was, but I have to admit to some disappointment when Graham Norton didn’t ring and invite me onto his show. I had all the funny stories lined up from my days as an environmental health officer (or EHO if you prefer TLAs – three letter acronyms).

“You drove around the South Downs, thinking of ways to murder people while you checked their kitchens for hygiene?” he would ask incredulously. “Didn’t it put you off your food?”

“No Graham, I never eat at any place I inspect.”

Pauses for comic laughter and blushes as JK Rowling complements me on my wit.

But the phone call never came. Hordes of fans didn’t beat down my door. The postman gave it a good rattle when he delivered my five complimentary paperbacks, courtesy of my publisher. No one recognised me in the street because none of the bookshops even knew my book existed.

Most of the population fell into the same category. The people who knew – friends, family and colleagues were probably bored of me mentioning the book or they were reading it.

Slowly, as the months passed, I realised the blue plaque on the wall of my house would have to wait a few more years. If I was going to get my book on Richard and Judy and become a household name, I had to get noticed. I had to market myself and my book to the masses.

Miss Marple photoFirst mistake! I needed to find people who liked reading about an environmental health officer who solved complex murders that paid homage to the traditional murder mysteries of authors like Agatha Christie.

Yes, I could see it was going to be a difficult sell. Most crime stories involved police officers or private detectives. Who’d ever heard of an EHO solving a murder?

But why not? If an elderly lady from St Mary Mead could do it …

So I send EHO, Kent Fisher, to investigate a fatal work accident and he uncovers a murder. Simple enough. But he also uncovers a shedload of family secrets and troubles along the way. That’s what happens in books, isn’t it?

Only Kent rolls with the punches, relying on his finely tuned sense of humour to see him through.

He becomes a local hero and gains his first commission to find a missing wife in the second novel, No Bodies, published in 2017. Once again, environmental health plays a key part as said missing wife ran off with a dodgy caterer.

Who said you can’t have your cake and eat it?

In No Remorse, published in May 2018, Kent takes his West Highland white terrier, Columbo, (no points for guessing my favourite TV detective), to entertain the residents of a well-to-do care home. One of the residents, who has dementia, is convinced they’re trying to kill him.

When he dies a few weeks later, does Kent think it’s murder? Of course not – until he’s handed a cryptic code that the old man left for him. And Kent’s on the trail again.

You might wonder how an EHO can solve murders. You might not think that running an animal sanctuary and trying to protect the environment are that heroic or worthy. And with all the personal baggage he carries, you might wonder why he doesn’t collapse under the weight of it.

That’s fine. If you prefer your heroes to be cynical coppers who drink and smoke too much, have broken marriages, and spend lots of time in their cars eating junk food between apprehending villains, there are some brilliant stories out there.

KindleI know, I’m an avid reader as well as a writer. Dip into my Kindle and you’ll find Peter James, LJ Ross, Rachel Amphlett, Robin Roughley, Elly Griffiths, Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle and many more crime writers.

They’ve all inspired me in some small way to write the kind of book I like to read, filled with twisting plots, irreverent humour and engaging characters who have real lives and issues to deal with.

I’m lucky to have a small, but growing number of readers who like the stories. Some of them write reviews that lift my day and keep me writing. Others send me messages by email or social media to say how much they enjoyed the novels. Some discuss the books with me, which is always an honour.

I love it when bloggers and reviewers hate a character – or love them. Some think Kent Fisher would make a great TV drama. Others think he should pack in environmental health and become a private detective.

Okay, Graham Norton’s not one of them, and he hasn’t signed up for my monthly newsletter either, despite the offer of a free book as a thank you.

I feel honoured and humbled that people have bought my books and enjoyed them. That’s all I ever wanted really – to entertain people with complex murder mysteries that would hopefully baffle them until the final reveal when they would sigh and say, ‘Of course.’

It would be great to shift millions of books like Peter James so I could make a living from writing. Maybe one day I will. Maybe I’ll emerge from Crouch Corner for lunch, take a peek at my phone and discover I’m an overnight sensation after all these years.

Or I’ll return to my desk and continue with the first draft of No Stone, the fourth Kent Fisher mystery. After all, there’s a small, but growing group of people who are waiting for the next book in the series. And I care about those people, who invest their money and time in me.

More than I care about sharing a sofa with JK Rowling, Elton John, Victoria Coren-Mitchell and Bob Mortimer, soaking up the laughter and applause as another funny story about noisy neighbours in bikinis rolls off the tongue.

But if I work hard and keep trying … you never know.

Robert Crouch

A home from Holmes

Environmental health officer turned sleuth, Kent Fisher, faces his most baffling and challenging mystery to date in No Remorse, due for release next Monday, 7th May 2018. The mystery centres on the picturesque village of East Dean. Kent’s faithful assistant and West Highland Terrier, Columbo, has already sniffed out the first clue.

Sherlock Holmes Cottage

Nestled in a valley of the South Downs, a mile inland from Birling Gap on the coast, East Dean once had a famous resident. If you look closely at the left hand side of the flint cottage in the photograph above, you’ll notice a blue plaque on the wall.

Sherlock Holmes plaque

I wanted to pay tribute to one of my favourite detectives in No Remorse, and set Nightingales, the luxury care home at the centre of the mystery, in East Dean. Its owner is Kieran Sherlock, who runs Sherlock’s Homes, a company providing residential care for the well-heeled. It sounds corny, I know, but the links to the fictional detective continue with receptionist, Louise Watson, who soon catches Kent’s eye.

Nightingales is a fictional home, set above the village on the slopes of the South Downs, close to the house you can see in the photo below.

No visit to East Dean would be complete without a stop at the Tiger Inn on the village green. While Kent interviews Miss Watson inside, Columbo sniffs out yet another clue to solve the baffling mystery surrounding Anthony Trimble’s death at Nightingales.

‘No Remorse echoes more modern crime novels, such as the alphabet mysteries of Sue Grafton and Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks books.’
Will Hatchett, editor of Environmental Health News.

Click here to read the full review.

No Remorse is available for pre-order on Amazon and published on 7th May 2018.

The Curse of the Baskervilles by Colin Garrow

August 2017

5/5 stars. Imagine Dr Watson feeling a tad frustrated and peeved as his smart-Alec, know-all friend, Sherlock Holmes, swoops in to solve another baffling case with consummate ease. All this after Watson’s done all the mind-numbing donkey work.

Description

Intrepid investigators Holmes and Watson continue their fight against crime in a not quite Post-Victorian, steampunk parallel universe. In three more adventures, the intrepid duo tackle a ghostly locomotive, journey to Dartmoor in search of a gigantic hound, and team up with bloodthirsty psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter in the hunt for a murderer.

Adult humour throughout.

Curse of the Baskervilles is book #3 in this Victorian comedy adventure series.

If you love historical mysteries, buy something else instead, but if you’re into fart-gags and innuendo this’ll be right up your Victorian street.

My thoughts

I love something different, especially if it makes me chuckle and this had me laughing from start to finish. Imagine Dr Watson feeling a tad frustrated and peeved as his smart-Alec, know-all friend, Sherlock Holmes, swoops in to solve another baffling case with consummate ease. All this after Watson’s done all the mind-numbing donkey work.

This is the basis for an irreverent comedic romp at the expense of crime literature’s most famous double act. Watson, determined to show his friend he can solve baffling cases, gives a slightly offbeat version of events that’s a delight to read. Better still, I loved Watson’s feisty and amorous wife, Mary, who showed a flair for kicking ass and putting the men in their places.

Inventive, irreverent and hugely entertaining, the Watson Letters will leave you laughing, and occasionally gasping in disbelief as the detective duo trample over convention and good taste to solve some of the most baffling (and curious) cases imaginable. Even an appearance by Hannibal Lecter seems perfectly in keeping as modern characters and events are thrown into the Victorian melting pot of Holmes and Watson.

Once I tuned into the humour and went with the flow, I thoroughly enjoyed the stories, which got better as I progressed, reaching an epic climax in the Silence of the Lambtons.

Colin Garrow is fast becoming one of my favourite authors and I would thoroughly recommend his books to anyone who enjoys a good and irreverent laugh.

5/5 stars